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Guangxi: nature, minerals, tourism and cheap manpower

Map of China’s provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions. Source: chokkicx / Getty Images

On the border with Vietnam, Guangxi has been part of China since Qin dynasty (221 B.C.). It is an Autonomous Region since 1958. Thanks to its mountains, Guangxi has been for China a natural border with other countries on the south.

The Geography of Guangxi

With a sub-tropical climate and a mountainous territory, Guangxi is home to about 50 million people. Almost the entirety of the biggest minority of China, the Zhuang, lives in Guangxi. Zhuang alone are one third of the total population of the province. Han is, as always, the majority, but there are still Yao, Miao, Dong, Vietnamese. Gelao ethnics are considered by many the original natives of Guangxi.

The capital, Nanning, is the biggest city of the province, and it has above 7 million people between its urban and metropolitan areas. Other cities, like Liuzhou, Guilin, Guigang, Beihai and Yulin follow.
Guangxi has much in common with Guangdong: the connection between the two provinces is deep. They share part of the name (while Guangxi means Western Expansion, Guangdong means Eastern Expansion) and part of the Guangxi coast has been under Guangdong rule in the past.

The Economy

Farms include rice, sweet potatoes, peanuts, tobacco and sugar cane. Among its mines lie one third of the whole country’s manganese and tin, and the biggest source of bauxite. This raw material is mainly used for the production of aluminium.
In Beihai there is a Economic and Technological Development Zone to help exports (thanks to the fact Beihai is the only major port on the Gulf of Tonkin). Dongxing, on the border with Vietnam, enjoys a special economic cooperation area.
Industrial Development Zones can also be found in Guilin, Nanning, Pingxiang and Yongning. There are focuses on biomedical industry, environmental protection, bioengineering and pharmaceuticals.

The closeness to Guangdong is being useful also for industrialization. Since the increase of production costs invited more and more industries to move out of Guangdong, many moved to Guangxi and Hunan, to the benefit of the poorer provinces. This, within some years, will probably reduce the development gap between Guangxi and the rest of China.

The Culture

Guangxi is multi-cultural, due to the strong influence of minorities. Also Guangdong affects Guangxi: the cantonese culture and language have a strong influence, especially on the eastern part. Due to its lower industrialization rate – mainly focused on automotive-related production, including metallurgic factories – and its closeness to the most rich province of China, Guangdong, Guangxi widely markets on its “green” status and natural views to improve its economy through internal tourism.
Guilin (historical and natural site) and the Ban Gioc-Detian Falls at the border with Vietnam are hot tourist spots.

In conclusion, although Guangxi is trying to improve its economic condition, its reliance on Guangdong is heavy. Although some foreign investment is already present, there is surely space for more. There are also some interesting business points: its proximity to Vietnam and to the Gulf of Tonkin, for example. Other options are the natural resources, potential for local tourism and a niche of international tourism as well as the already present automotive industry.

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